NBA Rumors: Grizzlies’ quandary, Blazers want Hinrich, and more

Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard has been actively working the phones, as usual.

The Blazers have been making inquiries all over the first round. Their main target has been Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, a burly power forward who plays with a toughness the Blazers lack and coach Nate McMillan would appreciate.

However, Sunday night, there was talk Pritchard has even grander plans. With point guard Ricky Rubio possibly slipping out of the top four, the Blazers are talking to the Wizards about acquiring the No. 5 pick.

There’s no question Pritchard also is trying to figure out a way to get maximum cap room this summer to use for a free agent or in a trade. The Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu gets the most mention, but sources say Portland’s real target is Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich.

Portland drafted Jerryd Bayless last year, but he didn’t have a very good rookie season, and head coach Nate McMillan would like Pritchard to steer clear of drafting another rookie. Hinrich would be a great fit. He’s relatively cheap (three years, $26.5 million remaining), experienced, and is a good defender.

Hasheem Thabeet pulled out of a workout with Memphis.

The official explanation was a sore shoulder. The unofficial explanation? Thabeet doesn’t want to play in Memphis and wanted to stay in Los Angeles to talk Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti into drafting him at No. 3.

Why doesn’t Thabeet want to play in Memphis? For the same reason that Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry and others have refused workouts. Said one source in explaining the Grizzlies’ reputation: “They don’t spend any money anymore. They don’t have a commitment to put a winning team on the floor right now. It’s not where an agent wants to send his star pick.”

It seems nobody wants to play for the Grizzlies, but they still have the #2 pick. Most of the mock drafts I’ve seen have Thabeet as their pick, but DraftExpress thinks they’ll take James Harden and move O.J. Mayo to point guard. It appears that Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, Jordan Hill and Ricky Rubio are also under consideration. DraftExpress says that Harden might be the last man standing.

While Harden may not have helped himself with his poor workout in Memphis, he may be the last man standing at this point—the only player in the elite tier of prospects that actually is interested in playing there. The fact that highly influential Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley flew into Memphis to watch Thabeet, only to have him cancel his workout at the last minute, could bode very well for Harden.

Jonny Flynn and Tyreke Evans worked out for a second time in Sacramento.

Flynn was at the top of the Kings’ board coming into the workout, but Evans emerged at the top. His physicality was just too much for Flynn, Curry and Calathes to handle.

As one Kings scout said, “It was a man beating up boys.”

That could be bad news for Rubio.

I doubt Rubio slips past the Timberwolves at #6, but to this point he hasn’t worked out for Minnesota. Evans reportedly dominated the big point guard workout in Minnesota as well, so his stock seems to be on the rise.

DraftExpress says that the T-Wolves are considering trading up to get Rubio at #2.

Sources say that Rubio’s camp has warmed up significantly to David Kahn and the Timberwolves organization as of late, and that they would not be opposed to him landing there. The catch is that the rookie scale salary slot of the #6 pick would not be sufficient in terms of satisfying Rubio’s gigantic buyout from DKV Joventut, so Kahn would have to trade into the top three to make that happen.

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